We're sitting here waiting for the Carlos Salcedo transfer to become official, and there's been plenty of talk in Mexican outlets about a deal being announced today. That can't be the case officially, though — here's everything we know about the situation.
Where indicated, citations of FIFA refer to FIFA document "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players," approved in 2012.
Who is Carlos Salcedo under contract with?
That would be MLS, with his playing rights held by Real Salt Lake.
What if a deal is concluded with Chivas by Salcedo or the club?
Chivas (through the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, or FMF) will request Salcedo's ITC — international transfer certificate — from US Soccer.
Does US Soccer have to send the ITC?
Not always. There are some circumstances that would allow US Soccer to not submit the certificate, and the reasons revolve around contracts. (Annexe 3, p. 52) If the contract between the club and player has not expired, or there hasn't been mutual early termination of the contract, the association doesn't have to send the certificate.
So could he force his way out?
It's unclear at this time whether that's the case. The Camilo saga from the beginning of the year didn't end up in arbitration, and Queretaro, where Camilo accepted a contract, ended up shelling out a chunk of cash for the forward. As a refresher, Camilo and his representatives posited that the club option was invalid for some reason. MLS disputed that, and in the end, Queretaro ended up paying a transfer fee.
That doesn't tell us whether Salcedo could force his way out of the contract, but it does provide a frame of reference. I'm going with 'no' — especially after the Camilo situation, MLS headquarters has experience with options as it relates to professional contracts.
Could Salcedo terminate his contract?
I don't think so. He doesn't have "sporting just cause" (FIFA, IV.15) because he played in more than 10 percent of official matches. He might believe he has just cause, which is another provision by which contracts can be terminated, but that would be a very difficult matter to prove — and indeed, it's more about non-payment than anything.
He could terminate his contract without just cause, but there would be significant penalties incurred as a result, including the player being unable to play in official matches for at least four months and the club being unable to register players for two consecutive periods. (FIFA IV.17)
But could Salcedo sign a contract at Chivas anyway?
Well, maybe. He can only conclude contract negotiations if the contract with his current club has expired or will expire within six months. We've confirmed that Salcedo has one year left on his contract with another unilateral option year available. If he does sign a contract, both he and Chivas would be subject to sanctions. (FIFA, IV.18)
What about a pre-contract?
It's not entirely clear what a 'pre-contract' is, but given Salcedo is indeed under contract for more than six months, it would be a violation of FIFA regulations
What if somebody is negotiating for him?
An agent, you mean? It's the same as if the player wanted to do it, and it runs afoul of the regulations.
So if Salcedo is actually negotiating with Chivas, is he running afoul of the regulations?
That's a bigger question, and it would probably take a lawyer to be certain about this one. But if he is negotiating a contract with Chivas, and if he is under contract for more than six months, he is violating the contract, whether it is a third party negotiating his contract or the player himself. (as per FIFA IV.18, IV.19) This is assuming the validity of the 'option year' as a means for trigger a contract extension.
Now, it is also possible that Salcedo has been given permission to negotiate a contract at Chivas, which would change considerations somewhat.
You keep questioning option years. Why?
FIFPro, the worldwide union for footballers, rejects unilateral options, referring to the Bueno-Rodriguez case involving CA Peñarol in Uruguay. However, that case focuses on unilateral rights that do not offer due consideration, citing substantial salary increases and other benefits.(CAS and Football, 2014. p. 124) In 2006, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in reference to a case involving unilateral option years for a player at Panathanaikos in Greece, stated that "no jurisprudence declares unilateral options as absolutely void under all circumstances" and that unilateral options are valid when the other party is "rewarded with an entirely predetermined substantial increase in remuneration."
So is Salcedo's unilateral option year valid?
Probably. Again, MLS cases haven't hit the CAS, and this would clear things up massively. But until then, we can assume that the contract is indeed valid, especially considering the 2006 ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Is Carlos Salcedo in violation of FIFA regulation?
That's a hard case for a blogger to make. While it is indeed possible that's the case, we don't have the grounds to make that claim. If he or his representation are claiming invalidity of Salcedo's contract, it must be proven. I posit that it is likely not invalid, but I also do not have full view of the contract. I make no claim here, other than to say that there are questions to be asked.